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To Kill A King [Blu-ray]
To Kill A King
Actors: Patricia Kerrigan, Dougray Scott, James Bolam, Steven Webb, Melissa Knatchbull
Genres: Drama
NR     2008     1hr 42min

1645: After years of civil war King Charles I is overthrown and two heroes have emerged Lord General Thomas Fairfax and his best friend and deputy General Oliver Cromwell. Their friendship is threatened when Fairfax and ...  more »

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Movie Details

Actors: Patricia Kerrigan, Dougray Scott, James Bolam, Steven Webb, Melissa Knatchbull
Genres: Drama
Sub-Genres: Drama
Format: Blu-ray - Color,Widescreen
DVD Release Date: 02/26/2008
Original Release Date: 01/01/2003
Theatrical Release Date: 01/01/2003
Release Year: 2008
Run Time: 1hr 42min
Screens: Color,Widescreen
Number of Discs: 1
SwapaDVD Credits: 2
Total Copies: 1
Members Wishing: 0
MPAA Rating: NR (Not Rated)
Languages: English
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Movie Reviews

Surprisingly good historical drama
Trevor Willsmer | London, England | 01/15/2008
(3 out of 5 stars)

"To Kill a King (aka Cromwell and Fairfax) came as quite a surprise - the film's troubled production is a local legend in the UK, the reviews were lukewarm and the film was further scuppered by a dreadful ad campaign and trailer. Then there was the fact that director Mike Barker's feature debut, the insultingly stupid The James Gang, was one of the very worst films I've ever had the misfortune to see. And that's ignoring Rupert Everett's efforts at promoting the movie in the States by describing it as boring rubbish and his performance being the only worthwhile thing in it.

The omens weren't good, to put it mildly, but it actually turned out to be a surprisingly entertaining and ambitious retelling of the troubled relationship between Lord Fairfax and his deputy Oliver Cromwell in the aftermath of the English Civil War. I can't vouch for its historical accuracy (widely criticized in the UK), but as drama it works very well, despite the fact that Roth's Cromwell isn't at the top of his game while Scott lacks the voice for the rabble-rousing speeches (although he's much better here than his usual lacklustre screen performances).

It's well-directed and hides the budget problems that saw the picture shut down for a few weeks while they scrambled for money to finish the picture quite admirably. It has a sense of scale both in story and treatment and, though it loses momentum slightly after the king's death, it deserved to find the audience it was denied in cinemas. Certainly a notch above the usual staid British historical picture, it's well worth a look."
Too short a film for too big a subject
landru141 | Planet Houston | 03/27/2008
(4 out of 5 stars)

""To Kill a King" - well, I've been waiting for a couple of years for a region 1 release. Initial reviews were all very mild, if not mean. The film itself is not cheap or badly shot. It is as good as any other history film about ("Elizabeth: The Golden Age" for example.)

The simple reason for the criticism is that the audience waiting for this film wanted something a bit more realistic and historically accurate. This is a subject that fascinates me (having read Antonia Frasier's "Cromwell" and "Charles II" plus "The Trial of Charles I: A Documentary History"). Sadly, there is too much going on to satisfy in almost all directions. We don't get to see much of the trial of Charles I, we don't get to see any of the Civil War, Pride's Purge is fairly swiftly done, and then we get a massive time lapse of Cromwell's rise and fall all in an hour and a half. Too much is happening and not enough time to allow the audience to care.

To say this is a bad movie, however, is just wrong. I suggest that the producers didn't quite understand the audience for this subject as most costume dramas are aimed at a female audience. However, there truly isn't anything feminine in this story (Fairfax's wife's time on screen is a little overdone.) All this could have been fixed with a longer runtime and a bit slower pace.

Since we aren't likely to see another film on this subject again in the near future, this is worth a look."
For God's sake, let us sit upon the ground
Leonard Fleisig | Here, there and everywhere | 03/18/2008
(3 out of 5 stars)

"And tell sad stories of the death of kings.

Richard II, Act iii. Sc. 2.

Oliver Cromwell and Thomas Fairfax led the Puritan revolt against Charles I that resulted in what as known as the Civil Wars. In the mind of Cromwell and his supporters, Charles I led a series of bloody civil wars against the Parliamentary forces that challenged Charles I's right to absolute rule. These civil wars caused the death of approximately 10% of Britain's adult males. It was a bloody time. Eventually, Cromwell and his supporters determined that the only way to end the civil wars was to put Charles I to trial. The trial and subsequent execution of Charles I was a watershed event that left England a republic (albeit only temporarily) and created the legal theory that tyranny was not a right of rulers but a crime against the ruled. The trial destroyed forever the right of kings to act with impunity from justice and the principles established at this trial still exist today and were evident at trials from Nuremberg to Yugoslavia.

"To Kill a King" sets out to tell the story of the trial and execution of King Charles I at the hands of Oliver Cromwell and his republican/Puritan army. However, the film's centerpiece is not, sad to say, the trial of Charles I but, rather, the complex and emotional relationship between Oliver Cromwell and his closest ally, Lord General Thomas Fairfax. The result is a film that, while interesting in its own right, misses the opportunity to explore one of history's most important events.

Director Mike Barker (and his cinematographer) does a commendable job in evoking the horror of the Civil Wars. The opening scene in particular, a scene shot at the end of a battle, gives the viewer a good idea of the devastation and havoc the war had on the English people. Tim Roth, as Oliver Cromwell and Dougray Scott play off against each other very well. Best of friends and comrades at arms Cromwell and Fairfax together secure victory after victory for their armies. As the film opens Fairfax, a great and popular general, was squarely in the republican camp. However, as the puritan revolution took hold Fairfax and his wife (played by Olivia Williams) begin to recoil at the excesses that most revolutions eventually fall prey to. The heart of the film involves the gulf that grows between the two friends as the revolution begins to devour its own. Rupert Everett does an excellent job portraying Charles I. He conveys the host of personality quirks of the king, at once foppish and naïve yet also cunning and far from unintelligent, as he tries desperately to find a way out of his rather comfortable house arrest. The trial itself is well done, if played out a bit superficially. The final `estrangement' between Cromwell and Fairfax is probably the strongest part of the film.

All in all this film is worth watching. However, it is worth watching not because it provides any great insights into the Civil War(s) and the trial of Charles I. Rather, it is a decent drama about two friends and their turbulent relationship. The War and Charles I are merely backdrop, even if the backdrop is well thought out and historically accurate.

This is a good film to put in your queue and provides good entertainment if you are in the mood for a lively period piece. The DVD had no `extras' worth mentioning.

Anyone interested in an excellent book on the trial and execution of Charles I would likely enjoy The Tyrannicide Brief: The Story of the Man Who Sent Charles I to the Scaffold .
L. Fleisig
Roth at his finest
TastyBabySyndrome | "Daddy Dagon's Daycare" - Proud Sponsor of the Lit | 03/19/2008
(3 out of 5 stars)

"The breakdown of the movie is not really needed in a review like this because the editorial does it justice. Basically you have a piece that is reflecting on a specific era in time and that reflection is well done. It earns the label drama, however, and it really wants to be epic in nature. That said, I would certainly say that were it not for Tim Roth I probably would have looked passed this movie because all in all, it was exactly what I expected. It had the set-up, the expected dress, the storyline - all of the things I anticipated just by reading about the movie. The one thing I did not expect was the not-so-run-of-the-mill acting that found its way into the movie.
I was honestly surprised by that - not because I didn't expect a great performance from Roth but because many of these movies start to blur together in my mind after a while.

With regard to a recommendation or not, it depends on how much the description appeals to you. If you want a piece set in a specific timeframe, have a love for these types of movies, and have some inkling of what you are getting into then I would say to try it out. I personally thought this was renting fodder and this isn't really a movie I would have considered if I were just browsing, but I'm not certain I would want it in a collection even if I really found all the descriptors exactly what I needed. Knowing what I know now I would probably rent it and see what I think about it before buying - it made for a good watch and was enjoyable but that alone does not make it an easy sale. For fans of Tim Roth this would be a great pick-up since Roth at the top of his game, and the genre might be appealing enough for people to go out and pick this up.
All in all, I gave it a 3 because I liked it but didn't like it enough to say that it had the rewatchability I crave.